We examined beta1 integrin expression during angiogenesis in the developing mouse CNS. Maturation of blood vessels was accompanied by three main events: (1) marked upregulation of beta1 integrin expression; (2) a switch in beta1 integrin expression, from alpha4 and alpha5 at postnatal day 1 to alpha1 and alpha6 in the adult; and (3) downregulation of fibronectin and upregulation of laminin expression. Thus, blood vessel maturation was associated with a developmental switch, from fibronectin-mediated signaling early in angiogenesis, to laminin-mediated signaling at later stages. To investigate the potential role of alpha4 and alpha5 integrins in angiogenesis, we developed a novel approach to purify endothelial cells from the CNS by selective adhesion to fibronectin. BrdU incorporation showed that fibronectin induced more endothelial cell proliferation than laminin, and antibody-blocking studies revealed that fibronectin mediated its effect via both alpha4 and alpha5 integrins. This work provides the first evidence that there is a developmental switch in the use of beta1 integrins during angiogenesis. Furthermore, it suggests that regulation of beta1 integrin and ECM expression by endothelial cells are important factors influencing vascular development in the CNS.